Undergraduate Research

Why Complete Undergraduate Research?

Undergraduate research helps students develop skills that employers value. While research opportunities vary by species and discipline, a common element is starting with an interesting question that has an unknown answer. Many different careers will present students with challenges they don’t know how to solve. Completing an undergraduate research project helps students mature as thinkers and doers.

What Qualifies as Undergraduate Research?

The nonprofit Council on Undergraduate Research defines it as “a mentored investigation or creative inquiry conducted by undergraduates that seeks to make a scholarly or artistic contribution to knowledge”. For many Animal Science undergraduates, that may involve working as a research assistant in a faculty member’s program, participating in a group research project in the Animal Science Undergraduate Research Student Association (ASURSA) or working independently on a research project with guidance from a faculty mentor.

To complete undergraduate research and satisfy the experiential learning requirement in the Animal Science degree, students must enroll in ANS 492 Undergraduate Research (3 credits) and present the results of their research at an undergraduate or faculty research forum, scientific meeting or in a peer-reviewed publication.

Identifying Opportunities for Undergraduate Research

Students can seek out opportunities on their own, or with the help of an academic advisor or faculty member who specializes in the species or discipline of interest. Faculty web pages provide helpful information on the species and discipline focus of their research programs. Students can complete undergraduate research with a professor in Animal Science or in another discipline.

Students should plan to acquire initial experience in a faculty member’s research program prior to undertaking their own undergraduate research project. Participating in an ASURSA research project can provide initial experience to the scientific method used in conducting research. Getting that experience early in an academic program can help students identify or refine goals in your degree and career. There is no specific time in your program to complete undergraduate research, although prior research experience is helpful. Many students conduct research during their junior or senior years.

Earning Credit for ANS 492 Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research must be approved by the ANS 492 coordinator, Dr. Miriam Weber Nielsen, before enrollment. Once you have identified an undergraduate research opportunity with a faculty mentor, complete the online application form at https://msu.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_6lBgeycjL59tNJA. Your project will be reviewed and processed for enrollment within about one week.

Funding for Undergraduate Research

The faculty mentor will provide the project idea and research funding for students completing undergraduate research in his or her program. Additional funding is available through the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (https://www.canr.msu.edu/academics/undergraduate/undergraduateresearch/). Funding for dairy-related projects is available through the G.C. and Gwendolyn Graf Memorial Student Enhancement Program managed by Dr. Miriam Weber Nielsen.

More questions?

Please contact the ANS 492 Undergraduate Research coordinator, Dr. Miriam Weber Nielsen (msw@msu.edu) for more information.